Cyndi Silverman is one of the most cheerful people I know. She’s the director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Santa Barbara/TriCounties Office, and for the past eight years, our nonprofit organizations have been in the same Chapala Street building. ADL is a world leader in fighting bigotry, hatred, and discrimination, yet Cindy is continuously focused on the positive side of life, and shares that enthusiasm whenever we cross paths.
This Wednesday, February 3, at 5:30 p.m., ADL is hosting an awareness-raising fundraiser at Petros Restaurant on State Street to coincide with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s opening night at the Arlington Theater across the street. That’s when they will also be inaugurating the ADL Stand UP Award, which will be bestowed each year during SBIFF upon a film that fosters mutual understanding and respect. The first recipient is the Irish film Viva, which is about a young man in Cuba fighting homophobia.
Here, Cyndi answers the Proust Questionnaire.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
I do not like when people feel that they need to put other people down to feel better about themselves. I really do not like when people feel the need to bully other people. I have a tendency to insert myself into situations when I see people bullying someone.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Eleanor Roosevelt for her outspokenness on racial issues, her stance on human rights, and her fearless quest for equality for all. She had numerous insightful things to say. My favorite: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
What is your motto?
“Go big or go home” is my favorite.
What do you like most about your job?
I love educating people, young and old, to standup for what is right; to stand up against hate and bias and how to be an ally. I also love that everyday brings a new and interesting challenge.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sitting on my couch in front of the fire with a cup of hot tea, English-style, watching a good movie or reading a book. I also love a cozy restaurant with a fire and an intimate conversation with a friend or my daughter.
What is your greatest fear?
That I will not live to see peace in the Middle East or on earth for that matter. I worry about Israel’s existence. Having a Jewish homeland is very important to me.
Who do you most admire?
In Santa Barbara, Cindy Lyons because of her down to earth presence, her grace, and her profound compassion. From afar, Malala Yousafzai because of her strength and unbreakable spirit, her courage to stand up and speak out against hate.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Travel. I love to travel and I like nice hotels, I mean NICE hotels. I don’t care for things but I love experiences.
What is your current state of mind?
Content. I feel blessed to live in such a beautiful place and to have friends and family that I love and feel their support on a daily basis. Being able to wakeup every morning with a goal to change hearts and minds and a job that gives me the platform to make the world a better place for all people. This makes me happy.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Openness and compassion. The ability to carry on a deep conversation. A desire and a commitment to leave the planet in a better place than we found it.
What do you most value in friends?
Sincerity, authenticity, and the love of a good martini. I love people but I also love my quiet time and solitude. I value friends who appreciate and accept this.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My upbeat attitude and my persistence. I don’t give up easily.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Did you really?” and “Oy” are my two favorites. I also tend to sign everything with hugs!
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to have a great singing voice and to play the piano.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I tend to talk too much. I would like to be a better listener.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising a beautiful, bright, intelligent, compassionate, and interesting daughter.
Where would you most like to live?
I love living in Santa Barbara but I also loved living in Tel Aviv, Israel and Victoria, Canada.
What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t tend to treasure things but I love my dog!
Who makes you laugh the most?
My younger sister. We laugh so hard every time I see her, usually about nothing.
On what occasion do you lie?
When I don’t want someone to feel bad about something, I will avoid the truth if I think it might hurt or offend them.